Monday, February 12, 2018

Two tone walls; Before and After in the upstairs hallway

Happy Monday all.
It's time for a little before and after today at my house. I have been wanting to give our upstairs hallway a bit of a refresh for awhile now. We painted it the taupe brown colour when we moved in 8 years ago and have left it like that since. My original plan was to paint the upstairs a dark hunter green but then as I got to thinking, our lights are vintage dark green enamel shop lights that I have no intention of changing as I love them. Therefore, I got to thinking about more of a sage/olive green and then maybe two tone? We have an existing chair rail up here that neither of us were interested in removing at this time so instead of ignoring it, I put it into play.
We painted the upper half of the walls in 
Sherwin Williams Military Green & the lower half in
Sherwin Williams Alabaster.

As we were priming and getting rid of the dark brown tone I was mildly concerned the two tone was making the "vibe" up here much much more country than I had intended. 
I am constantly asked to describe my style and I never have the same answer because I think it changes all the time by what is influencing me in the moment. And one word to describe my style? um no that doesn't exist. I was going for vintage modern eclectic up here but I think I got vintage traditional modern eclectic boho lol.

Just as a little recap, the above was the colour before. This wall held a massive black and white gallery wall I still love but I needed/wanted a change.

One of the biggest boosters in this upstairs hallway is that after we had to get our roof done last year we added a sun tunnel right over top of this table. We figure while there were people up there lets do it now. That means I get to grow plants over here successfully with the added light that is thrown around.
The metal fern frond in the top frame is from Terrain.

The antique portraits are just a few of my portrait collection. It's a weird one as we aren't related to any of these people but I just love the artistry of them, wondering who these people were and what they were thinking during these photos/ paintings.
The metal planter holds a huge double philodendron micans [which is one of my new favourite plants]. The huge wood carved pot is made to be a planter but I just loved it empty as a sculpture under this table.

An old lamp base becomes a stand for one of my African helmet masks. A bronze bird pair guards the table and a simple gold stand [available in the store] holds an ostrich egg up.

The colour just makes the whole space feel lighter. It draws you into the bathroom now and the spaces feel joined.

 At the other end of the hall I would like to introduce you to Gertrude. Our new ostrich friend. She's a huge modern style bird that I fell in love with and with her antique table lamp picture light and lovely brown frame that ties in the urn, she makes me smile every day I walk out of our bedroom [and into Emma's room].

A little collection of wall plants and curiosities. 

The curtains we had up here were never long enough but because of the previously heavy wood table you couldn't see it. I found this vintage brass beauty on Kjijij before Christmas for 30 bucks and I love the lighter look. It did mean I needed to invest in new drapes or make my own. The make my own option got kiboshed from time constraints and a smidge bit of laziness as I don't love making drapes. After a bit of research into custom drapes and what I was looking for I actually found these simple white and black fringe beauties at Restoration Hardware baby. We kept the pipe curtain rod but just painted it in a high gloss enamel white paint.

The gallery wall has now become the simple basket wall. Seagrass baskets line up along the wall and are simple art I am really enjoying right now. You can just catch a glimpse of the African basket collection on the wall in the bathroom. Again tying the two spaces together without being exactly the same.
 Baskets are so dual purpose. Great on tables, on floors holding things, on walls as art. As long as you like the look of the basket no matter if you tire of it in one place, you will likely find a use for it somewhere else.

So that's it for our little upstairs hallway renovation. We love it and love how much lighter and brighter it feels. I told you when I shared the office that winter makes all the rooms fair game. What shall I attack next?

Have a great day,


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Simple, Fast and Delicious.

Good morning everyone.
So we've had ourselves a little winter snow globe happen over the last day.

I don't know about you but this time of year is like food festivus with the comfort foods.

In the interest of week night comfort food that gets on the table semi-quick, I bring you another recipe adapted from the Food 52 Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore
we carry in store. This book is near in that the recipes are not just one chefs but a compilation of all the highlights from many chefs.

5 tbsp evoo
6 cups coarsely chopped onion [i prefer sweet vidalia onions]
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar

sea salt & pepper
1 tsp nutmeg
1 package egg noodles
2 cups greek style plain yogurt
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or pot over medium high heat. Add the chopped onions, stirring often. Add the brown sugar and apple cider vinegar and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook the onions over medium heat until they are softened about 25min [stirring every few minutes]. Remove the lid and turn the heat down to low and continue to cook until they are super soft, sticky and carmelized. 
[you are welcome to omit the brown sugar and cider vinegar and make regular caramelized onions, i just decided to take these one step further as a brown sugar marmalade type onion]
Caramelizing about 30-40min
Marmalade style takes about 60+ min
start the onions while doing laundry, making lunches and they'll be done before you know it

Make your pasta. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta until just past al dente [nice and soft]. Drain the pasta reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Combine the yogurt with 1/4 cup of the pasta water, nutmeg, pinch of salt and pepper. Add more of the pasta water as needed to get the "sauce" to your desired thickness.
Toss the pasta with the sauce and top with the fantastic onions and their extra juices. Then top with a load of parmesan cheese.
Toss and dig in while still hot and enjoy the simple deliciousness.

Items shown to serve this wonderful dinner found in store are:
Nest serving spoons
Seagrass charger
Black and ivory table runner
antique ironstone bowls
Terracotta planters
Myrtle topiaries
Red stripe linen tea towels used as napkins

So I know reading this probably makes the wait until dinner time a little more trying but I promise the time it takes to make the onions is worth it and the simplicity of a relatively healthy meal is priceless.

Don't forget the glass of wine

Have a great day everyone,


Friday, February 2, 2018

Plant Highlights: The Fiddle leaf fig AKA "mr. mc fussy pants"

Yes you read that right. My. Mc McFussy pants, the tree. There are so many posts out there about the fiddle leaf fig. It is in almost every over instagrammed post. It is the star of many a Pinterest photo and every issue of House & Home magazine.

So why add my 2 cents?
Well first because this plant might be more popular than ever. It isn't a trend but more like one of those design staples that becomes what we like to refer to as a classic.

Secondly, we sell a fair amount of this plant in the shop and I have growing 3 in my home, the longest is going on 7 years now. I have killed a few, made the mistakes, pushed a few past boundaries in recent years to see what they can handle and have a pretty good grip on what this plant takes to grow properly and successfully. Having said that, there will always be exceptions to the rule as stated in my last post. Plants do not need to be a life long commitment. They need to bring you happiness and green to a space you are creating to live and love in.

So, having said that let's get to the point and learn about the 

Fiddle leaf fig
latin name "Ficus Lyrata"

available as a bush
[this means the leaves extend fully down the trunk to almost soil level and look more like a bush than a tree]

or as a standard
[this term generally means there is a significant space of trunk before you see leaves giving the appearance of a tree like structure as seen below with the tree on the left]

Light: bright indirect light. ABSOLUTELY NO DIRECT SUN AND NO DARK CORNERS. i have successfully grown fiddle leaf figs from medium to bright indirect light. low is a no go as you will start seeing the tips of the leaves turn brown from lack of sunshine. Once they go brown there is no turning back.
One of the most important things we tell customers when deciding to bring a fiddle home is choose your location wisely. A fiddle leaf fig does not enjoy musical rooms at all. Know your windows and light levels. Keeping in mind the changes that go with winter to summer in our Canadian climate. We are short 5+ hours of daylight this time of year and the sun is not always out so a semi-bright window this time of year could be a frying pan in the summer. Try to find an indirect location that receives gentle light for a minimum of 6 hours per day

Air: this is not a concern for a lot of plants but the fiddle leaf fig tree cannot handle any kind of draft. Whether that be from an opening front door, sliding dog door, air conditioning vent or gorgeous spring breeze window. Prima donna right? They kind of are but, ensuring these first 2 conditions are right gets your tree its best chances possible. It's one of those things that people in warmer climates don't need to worry about but in our 4 season could have those 4 seasons in 1 week climate, we need to think about these things when investing in plants.

Water: Once a week. Every week. At the same time. Same bat time. Same bat channel.
Alright fine, the time doesn't matter but fiddle leaf figs enjoy a schedule like a newborn baby. You will check that the top of the soil is dry with your finger and if the answer is yes, you give your plant a nice healthy fully wet drink of water. If your plant is in the growers pot allow to drain off and make sure not standing in water. If your plant is planted [i have a note about when to plant later] make sure you are giving water amounts your plant can handle drinking within a couple days. Soggy soil causes root rot and DEATH.
ie. a 10" growers pot should be able to handle 2-3 cups of water per week.

Alright, note gleaned from years of experimenting. The above same bat channel comments basically mean similar to succulents, fiddle leaf figs absolutely hate dribble watering. The over mothering killer. They don't want small amounts of water a couple times a week. It may equal out to the same amount but, they prefer a good healthy drink once a week vs. multiple small drinks over the period of a week.

Cleaning: the broad shape and size of the leaves of this plant may mean that it collects some dust and loses its shine over the course of time. easy clean once a year method: put old socks ( you know the ones that get magic toe and heel holes) on both hands and a light amount of melted coconut oil on one and massage the tops of the leaves. why socks? the leaves of the fiddle leaf fig do not appreciate the oils from our hands and can turn brown at the locations. this means kiddos grabbing those fantastic leaves will not have a pleasant ending. this is not a great science experiment tree for young people.

the above is my 7 year old. i bought a skinny metal rod at canadian tire to stake all the trunks too as it was starting to expand and flop. the tree will easily keep growing when staked as long as the rest of the conditions are right. this tree has lost a ton of lower leaves over the years and every spring starts growing new ones from the top like crazy.
i have found in our climate that these trees are not super consistent growers in a home during the winter months but come summer va va voom.

MOVING OUTSIDE: most definitely yes. i move my one tree outside every summer where it has a hey day with the humidity and grows like crazy. the night time temperature must be above 60 degrees which means you likely aren't moving this guy outside until at least the middle of June but watch that baby grow. Keep in mind this tree needs to be in shade when outside. Rule of thumb: outdoor shade is still brighter than most locations in the house.

Brown leaves & tips/ leaf drop: This can happen as a plant adjusts to its new surroundings. Most fiddle leaf figs are grown in greenhouses in Florida, transported to Canada, acclimate to a wholesale greenhouse, transfer to a smaller greenhouse or store like Oliver and Rust then hop in your car to head into your home each time having its daily dose of heat and light decrease. You'd be losing your hair too. Do not panic and start over watering to compensate. If all the other conditions are right your plant should recover just fine and just be short a few leaves which it will happily re grow.

Planting: So this is a tricky one and much debated. When you buy a fiddle leaf fig in the growers pot you can usually see a lot of roots circling the top of the pot as you are buying a mature plant that has done its share of growing. If in a warmer climate there is not much to hold you back from re-potting right away. In the winter in Canada, my personal recommendation from years of watching these trees/plants grow is take your plant home [make sure wherever you buy it from is heavily bagged protecting your new purchase for transport; do not take it out into the cold naked. NO EXCEPTIONS! It will reward you with death] and let if first spend a few weeks acclimating to its new home before you also rip it out of its pot and force it into new growth. Making sure your plant likes its new location is always a good bet and then get it a stellar pot to live in for the next couple years. My trees are on about a 4-5 year re-pot cycle. Remember only a few inches extra diameter in your pot is good practice. 10" growers pot can go up to a pot about 14-15" at most.
The tree in our living room is about 7.5' tall right now but started as a 4' squirt. It has been repotted twice and uses the main wall as support.

So have I scared you off? I hope not. These trees while "fickle" are a wonderful design feature that can live with you for years to come. It seems like a lot to think about when all you want is a tall tree like you saw on pinterest. When you break down the no draft, bright light once a week water, its really not that big of a deal.

Good luck and don't forget the most important element...
The name of course. You have to name your tree and talk to it.
1. your tree will love your more
2. talking to plants has shown to have healing and depression reducing properties
and D. because i said so

Another edition of our plant focus comes to an end.
Enjoy your Friday's all,


Monday, January 29, 2018

Eclectic rearranging in the office at home

I do not hate winter. 
The cold doesn't bug me. 
The snow looks pretty.
 BUT, the winter blues of being stuck in the house nails me like a ton of friggin' bricks this time of year. Every room in my house becomes fair game and if I'm being honest I don't even have time to roll the dice so, when I start ripping stuff apart it often turns into a "days" affair because I don't get to finish what I start OR I just forgo the sleep option leaving me tongue tied and brain farty the next day. Our office became apart of the game when we officially opened the doors on our second business about 2 months ago. Trevor, my darling husband has been in heating and air conditioning for years and years now and has been running his side of a plumbing HVAC company with a friend for the past few but like me is very type A in some respects and it was just time to grab the bull by the horns and be on his own. Soooo, our home office needed a mild reorganization of drawers and closets but then of course I can't stop there when there is an opportunity to re-decorate some shelves. Plus, oddly enough reimagining our shelves etc is like calming therapy for my brain. It turns off the store function of products, budgets, emails, instagram and lets me have a "me" break. Weird yes, but it's what works.

Of course since I did all this fun rearranging I thought I would share. Now if this is your first time seeing this room and you are a minimalist, eek you may want to leave. This room is a huge collection of my design books, travel mementos for us, plants, photography, weird items that didn't fit in the rest of the house. Its basically an "us" room where everything doesn't necessarily match but its all our favs.

I refinished this dresser a few years ago for this room to house at the time our etsy stock pre-retail store but, now it houses all our paperwork, files, tax stuff etc. The curtains are wool and were originally from West Elm

I pulled apart our upstairs gallery wall which I will be sharing soon as we redid our upstairs hallway too. A couple of the favourite portrait prints found a home in this corner and I really love the impact they are having here.
Notice I keep saying love, because they are probably not hung right or in the right configuration but if you love it then who cares about the rules.

The ever popular "flock" pillow that has just reappeared in store after a lengthy hiatus for all the bird lovers out there.

That tall tower to the right of the photo holds all my back issues of Style at Home & Country Living magazine. I don't hoard all the magazines I read but I do find that I go back to these every once in awhile so at this point haven't trashed them all. I am no longer a subscriber to Country Living as I haven't loved the direction it took the past couple of years but the back issues are so inspiring. The plant on top of the shelf is a pothos and is great with any light conditions so I don't have to fuss with it too much.

The wall of fun. Gimme all the plants, books, and african artifacts.

The book pages on the wall are from a book that we carry in the shop called Botanicum. I just used washi tape to non-permanently hold them up as I will likely and most certainly eventually change my mind but love the impact they have as a layer to these shelves right now.

The large ceramic birds are vintage made in Italy we found on a trip to Toronto. I walked past them a few times in the store staring them down and even started out of the shop but they were speaking to me as so original, I just couldn't leave them behind so up on the shelf they go.

Well thanks by stopping by part of our head office and wandering amongst our work and memories.

Have a great day everyone,


Friday, January 26, 2018

Give me the stuffed French toast: Recipe Inspiration from THE PRESERVATORY

Today, we bring you a recipe courtesy of a wonderful cookbook we have in the shop called

by: Lee Murphy

However, when we bring you these recipes we will also be adding our flair to it as foodies or our changes for simplicity as sometimes items can be hard to find.

If you are a french toast lover combined with a lover of brie, this may be just the recipe for you. Super simple to make but packs a wallop for a fancy breakfast one morning.

Brie and preserve stuffed French toast

the ingredient list included is our list. we changed the bread to an artisan loaf of belgian bread instead of using packaged brioche. a little bit healthier and a few less preservatives (at least the one from the grocery store we visited) . The preserves used are found in store from Toronto by the wonderful Kitten & the the Bear; couple spoonfuls in the mouth, 1/2 cup in the recipe. We also did a half and half on the sugar with brown sugar and added extra spices.

1 unsliced loaf of Belgian bread
1 small round of Brie; Cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1/2 cup preserves (Kitten & the Bear- Strawberry, Raspberry & Cream) [found in store]
2 tbsp of margarine
Maple syrup to serve [found in store]

4 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup Half & Half
Pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon
1/8 cup white 1/8 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt

  • Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment
  • Slice bread into 1-inch thick slices and cut a 4-inch slit along the top crust of each slice to form a pocket
  • Place and slice of brie and a good smear of preserves into each piece of bread
  • Whisk custard ingredients together. Dip both sides of filled bread slices into the custard, let bread soak for 3-5 minutes in custard. 
  • Heat a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add a pat of margarine and fry each slice of custard soaked bread until golden brown. Places slices on baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until puffed and golden
  • Serve with warm maple syrup and extra preserves

  • It looked like this for minor moments as it got gobbled. Seriously gobbled once it hit our plates. We were pretty sure this would be a winner as some serious brie lovers were in da house and those preserves are just plain addictive but the combination is sinful. Exercise plans were made after eating everything and swallowing all the coffee.

    You won't be sorry you tried it

    Have a great day everyone,